U must play someone good. 5 things learned from destroying W. Illinois

·2 min read

1. This team needs to play somebody good – and now

No offense to New Mexico State and Western Illinois, but neither team is very good. And because of that, we really don't know how good the Gophers are. Sure, they impressively took care of business by a combined 100-10 score in the two wins, but how will that translate when Big Ten play begins? Colorado might offer more resistance on Saturday, but the 0-2 Buffaloes lost 41-10 at Air Force and gave up 435 rushing yards in the process. A true gauge for the Gophers will come Sept. 14 in the Big Ten opener at Michigan State.

2. That said, the offense has been impressive

Playing a couple of cupcakes enabled the Gophers to fine-tune their offense with the reunited duo of quarterback Tanner Morgan and coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, and the results have been impressive. Morgan completed 14 of 18 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown against Western Illinois and has completed 73% of his passes this season. Ciarrocca loosened the reins on Saturday as the Gophers had four pass plays of 35 yards or longer.

3. When challenged, Gophers responded

Coach P.J. Fleck didn't like some of the first-half sloppiness from his team, so he challenged his players at halftime to focus. They responded with a six-play, 69-yard TD drive in which Mohamed Ibrahim rushed five times for 58 yards, followed by Morgan's 45-yard TD pass to tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford.

4. Defense is solid again

While the Gophers didn't get their second consecutive shutout, the Minnesota defense had another solid game. The Gophers stuffed the run, limiting the Fighting Leathernecks to 1.8 yards per carry, and held Western Illinois to 1-for-13 on third-down conversions and 0-for-2 on fourth-down attempts.

5. The stats like the Gophers

Granted, it's a very small sample size that came against two overmatched opponents, but the Gophers have put up some impressive stats. They lead the nation's 131 FBS teams in total offense (582.0 yards per game), total defense (142.5 yards allowed per game) and time of possession (41 minutes, 51.5 seconds per game). They're second in rushing offense (302.0) and tied for seventh in scoring offense (50.0 points per game). They're tied for second in scoring defense (5.0), third in rushing defense (36.5) and fifth in passing defense (106.0). Ibrahim ranks seventh in rushing at 131.0 yards per game.